Senate Faults 76% Budgetary Release to Finance Ministry in 2018

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Deji Elumoye in Abuja

The Senate yesterday flayed the 76 per cent budgetary release to the federal ministry of finance and its agencies in the 2018 fiscal year.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Senator John Enoh, faulted the high budget finance ministry released to itself as well as its agencies in 2018 fiscal year when officials of the ministry appeared before the committee to defend their 2019 budget proposals.

He noted that despite complaints of paucity of funds by other federal government ministries and agencies, the ministry of finance was allocating high budget to itself.

Enoh sought to know why the ministry released more money to itself while other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) were complaining of poor release.

He also drew the attention of finance ministry to “poor utilisation” of the funds released to the ministry and parastatals in the year under review.

For instance, the Senator noted that whereas N667 million was released to the ministry for capital projects, only N209 million or 31 per cent had been utilised.

Finance Minister, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, had earlier in her review of 2018 budget, stated that the ministry has so far recorded 76 per cent overall performance in terms of fund released in the outgoing fiscal year.

A breakdown of the figures presented by the Minister showed that personnel cost got cash backing of 89 per cent, overhead cost got 62 per cent while capital allocation got 81 per cent.

Ahmed while giving the total performance of the federal government’s 2018 budget said personnel budget recorded an average of 100 per cent due to “payment of salaries and pensions as and when due”.

“For overhead, out of 12 months we were only able to release eight months with the exception of some critical agencies like the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and the Unity Schools.

“We prioritised their releases so they had more than eight months, because of payment of corps members’ allowances in case of the NYSC, and feeding of prisoners for the prison service,” she said.

She added that some military agencies “performing critical functions that must not stop” also had more than eight months releases.

Blaming the partial releases on poor revenue generation, the Minister said the average revenue performance at the close of 2018 was 55 per cent.

“Because of that, we were not able to fund the budget as we will have loved to, and therefore impossible to say some agencies’ budgets will get 100 per cent cash backing, ” she explained.